This virgin margarita recipe tastes as good as the real thing! This non-alcoholic mocktail is irresistibly tasty with a secret ingredient.

Margarita mocktail

Craving a margarita but can’t drink? Or serving a crowd and need a non-alcoholic option? Enter this non alcoholic virgin margarita recipe! It’s tangy and refreshing, punctuated by that classic salt rim. Even better, it’s got a surprise that brings a bit of “funk” to the flavor that’s reminiscent of tequila. With a focus on tart flavors and balanced with just enough sweet, it’s truly the non alcoholic mocktail spin on our Classic Margarita! Side benefit: it’s lower calorie, too. Here are all our secrets.

How to make a virgin margarita

Here’s how to make everyone’s favorite cocktail into a margarita mocktail! The margarita is a classic alcoholic drink on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. This means that there’s an “official” definition of the margarita: tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. But how to make that taste as intriguing…with no alcohol at all? A zero-proof margarita, if you will? Here’s how to make a virgin margarita:

  • Lime juice: Always.
  • Lemon juice: Using lemon as well as lime brings nuance to the citrus.
  • Tonic water: Bubbles add a sparkle!
  • Maple syrup or simple syrup: Just a drizzle balances the tartness.
  • Pickle juice: Yes, pickle juice adds that tequila “funk”! Keep reading for why…
Virgin margarita

The secret? Pickle juice.

The secret to making this virgin margarita taste over the top delicious? Pickle juice. Adding intrigue to the flavor of a mocktail is essential to making them more than just fruit juice. It’s customary to experiment with all sorts of things, including non-alcoholic spirits. But we didn’t want to add a special ingredient you’d have to purchase specially.

That’s where pickle juice comes in! It brings a briny funk to this virgin margarita that makes you feel like there’s a little alcohol in it. But it’s not so much that it’s noticeable! It’s also totally optional, so you don’t have to do it if it weirds you out. But after multiple taste tests, pickle juice in a non alcoholic margarita was the clear winner!

Less sugar than the standard virgin margarita recipe!

We love our cocktails crisp and tart around here. So just like our Classic Margarita, there’s barely any added sugar in this margarita. This stands out from the standard margarita mocktail, which is usually so sickly sweet it’s barely a margarita at all! This shouldn’t taste like sweet syrupy juice: it should be crisp and tart. The sugar comes from two sources:

  • Only ¼ teaspoon maple syrup or simple syrup (use whichever you’d like: maple syrup is a great natural sweetener with no refined sugar)
  • A hint of sugar in the tonic water
Virgin margarita

What is tonic water? Can I use sparkling water?

Tonic water is a carbonated water that also contains quinine and is lightly sweetened. It originally was used against malaria, but these days the quinine levels are much lower. Quinine adds a slightly bitter flavor, but it’s not as detectable with today’s lower levels. Even so, there’s something about the nuance of bitter and sweet in tonic water which is hard to replace.

True cocktails and mocktails use tonic water, so we’d recommend finding some if you can! Sparkling water adds only bubbles, but doesn’t have the nuance in flavor. We buy a brand that comes in small cans, which is nice since you’ll only use a little in this virgin margarita.

Virgin margarita

More margarita variations

If you also drink alcohol (or have friends who do), we’ve got lots more variations on this classic drink! Here are some of the best margarita recipes:

More non alcoholic mocktails

Need more zero-proof cocktails? Try these tasty mocktails:

Margarita mocktail

When to serve this virgin margarita recipe

Anytime works for a non alcoholic margarita! This one is perfect as a:

  • Zero proof margarita for guests who don’t drink alcohol
  • Mocktail for pregnant women
  • Baby shower drink (make one for mom, then classic margaritas for guests)
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Virgin margarita

Virgin Margarita (Non Alcoholic!)


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This virgin margarita recipe tastes as good as the real thing! This non-alcoholic mocktail is irresistibly tasty with a secret ingredient.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon maple syrup or simple syrup
  • ⅛ teaspoon pickle juice (optional but recommended!)
  • 3 ounces tonic water
  • For the garnish: Lime wheel

Instructions

  1. Cut a notch in a lime wedge, then run the lime around the rim of a glass. Dip the edge of the rim into a plate of flaky sea salt (or for a festive look, use Margarita Salt).
  2. In the serving glass, stir together the lime juice, lemon juice, maple syrup, and pickle juice (adds just the right funky flavor to mimic tequila). Add the tonic water and ice. Garnish with a lime wheel and serve.
  • Category: Mocktail
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: Virgin Margarita, Margarita Mocktail, Zero Proof Margarita, Non Alcoholic Margarita, Virgin Margarita Recipe, How to make a virgin margarita

Last updated: March 2021

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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18 Comments

  1. Do you recommend that I use the pickle juice from a jar of DILL pickles or another type of pickles?
    P.S. I’ve made so many of your recipes during quarantine for COVID-19. What a bright spot during these dark days! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me become a vegetarian!

  2. Debbie, Id say use what you’ve got. Maybe use half and taste then add more if you think the flavors work. All I have are hamburger slices so that’s what I used. I’m serving them tomorrow so I haven’t mixed in the tonic yet otherwise I’d give you my feedback.

  3. Hi! Love your recipe! Just tried with just a little juice from dill relish. Didn’t like it. Found tonic water without sugar and didn’t add the sweetner (I will try the maple syrup next try since I always have it). Maybe that will be more to my taste. Had olives, so I tried previously with olive juice (dirty!). Tastes more like a dirty martini, but I like it better.

  4. I didn’t have lemons or tonic water on hand, so I tried this: fresh lime juice, lemon LaCroix, fresh orange juice, a bit of pickle juice, a bit of maple syrup and lots of ice. Worked pretty well and I can see the value of the pickle juice – it slightly evokes the taste of Tequila! I will keep experimenting, but will stick with the maple syrup and pickle juice (great way to use the juice when the pickles are gone)!

  5. We loved it! Didn’t miss the tequila at all in this margarita and went a tad heavier on the pickle juice with Agave syrup.

  6. My sis-in-law made this yesterday and it was FANTASTIC. She made it as a batch for 6 of us and eyeballed the measurements bc we were in a hurry. We were all shocked at how much it did taste like a Marg. I bought half sour pickles (for the milder juice and cuz I love ‘em) and diet tonic water btw. We also did the whole salt on the glass rim too. Will definitely being using this recipe again. Thank you!

  7. So delicious! Went with the recommendations of going with a little more pickle juice and it did the trick! Just lovely for a sunny afternoon on the deck! Much appreciated!

  8. I truly enjoyed the recipe!! I followed the exact recipe and wished I would have made enough for two servings. So good. I think I will make another mocktail to close out my night.

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